Green Cards: A Primer
What is a Green Card?
A green card, officially referred to as a Permanent Resident Card (and formerly known as a Resident Alien Card), allows an individual to live and work permanently within the United States. The Green Card is the first step towards becoming a naturalized United States Citizen and can be obtained through family, employment, adoption, the diversity visa program, religious work, asylum, or by qualifying for one of several specialized programs (U Visa, T Visa, S Visa, VAWA, NACARA, Cuban Adjustment Act, etc.)
There are two types of green cards available for non-citizens. They are:
Lawful Permanent Resident Cards; and
Conditional Lawful Permanent Resident Cards
Lawful Permanent Resident Card (“Permanent Green Cards”)
A Lawful Permanent Resident Card (hereinafter referred to as “LPR card”), as discussed above, allows an individual to live and work in the United States. Notwithstanding the name, a permanent green card does expire, and must be renewed every ten (10) years. However, the failure to renew your LPR card in a timely manner does not result in loss of one’s permanent resident status. LPR Card holders can also pursue citizenship, through the naturalization process, after three to five years of being a Lawful Permanent Resident, depending on how they acquired their status.
Conditional Lawful Permanent Resident Card (“Conditional Green Cards”)
A Conditional Lawful Permanent Resident (CLPR) card, otherwise known as a conditional green card, is a form of green card that provides the same benefits as a LPR card with one major distinction. Unlike an LPR card, which is valid for a ten-year period and can be indefinitely renewed, a CLPR card is valid for a two-year period and cannot be renewed.
Instead, a Conditional Lawful Permanent Resident must petition to remove the conditions (Form I-751 for marriage-based cases; Form I-829 for investment-based cases) from their CLPR status ninety (90) days before the card expires. If approved, the conditions are removed, and the resident is issued ten-year permanent resident card.
What if I fail to Remove the Conditions on my Conditional Lawful Permanent Residence?
If the Conditional Lawful Permanent Resident fails to petition to remove their conditions within the ninety (90) day period prior to the green card’s expiration date, that person will lose their permanent resident status automatically and, as a result, could face removal from the United States. While there are exceptions to this rule, it is best to timely file a petition to remove conditions to avoid the potential for harsh sanctions.
Why are Conditional Lawful Permanent Resident Cards Even Issued?
A CLPR card is typically issued in marriage-based cases, where the marriage in question is of short term (a marriage less than two years.) It is a measure implemented by USCIS to curb fraud in marriage-based cases.
However, CLPR status is not limited to short-term marriage-based petitions. CLPR status can be conferred to investors who provide financial investment and create job opportunities within the United States. If approved, these individuals receive a two-year conditional residence, just like individuals in short-term marriages.
Investors are also required to petition to remove the conditions of their residence ninety (90) days before the expiration of their CLPR status. Assuming the applicant still meets the criteria by which they obtained their conditional residence (the business is still operational, under the same ownership, and still employs a minimum of ten full-time U.S. employees), the green card holder can remove the conditions from their status and obtain a permanent resident card valid for ten years.
Our Experienced Immigration Attorneys are here to Support You!
At The Law Office of George K. Gomez, P.A., we help diverse clients from countries around the world in the pursuit of lawful permanent resident status for themselves and their loved ones. With our team at your side, you can rest assured that your green card petition will be timely and properly filed. Our team will ensure your application adheres to every applicable regulation so that you have the best chance possible of obtaining lawful permanent residency in the U.S.
Call Us Today at (305) 539-0991 for a Free, no obligation, consultation in order to learn more about how we can help you. We offer immigration attorney services for our clients all over South Florida!